Lehigh News Article

Connecting with a target audience
Olivia Hodina ’15 majors in marketing and minors in graphic design and political science. She is a recipient of the Nelson Leighton Bond Memorial Prize for rising juniors who demonstrate outstanding scholastic achievements, character and leadership.

Hodina attributes her success to the experiences Lehigh has offered her.

In January, Hodina and three other students took part in the third annual Diversity Case Competition, a two-day conference hosted by the Kelley Student Diversity Council (KSDC) at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. Teams have one month to prepare a presentation aimed at educating students about the importance of diversity in business.

Corinne Post, associate professor of management, approached Hodina and Bryson Craft ’14 about competing. They found two other participants, Alexandra Bernabel ’15 and Justin Mahoney ’15, and prepared a presentation.

The objective for the competition was to expand marketing opportunities for Target Corp., the nation’s second-largest discount retailer. The teams were asked how Target could be the retailer and employer of choice for people of all backgrounds, including “diverse guests.”

Digital platforms for “¡Mi Target!”

Lehigh’s presentation, titled ¡Mi Target!, encompassed all aspects of marketing to Hispanics. In their plans, they included digital platforms through which Hispanic consumers could be easily reached, such as Hulu commercials and Facebook, and merchandising aligned with the community’s cultural values.

Hodina says she is undecided about the efficacy of targeted marketing.

“Sometimes I feel as though basic marketing approaches could be easily expanded to be more inclusive,” she says. “Other times, I see what companies such as Kmart and Walmart are doing, and I understand how targeting really works. Target would be smart to focus on how to attract different communities, as they lack the strategy of their competitors.”

Hodina was drawn to the competition because of her interest in retail marketing. Last summer, she studied marketing with Lehigh in Belgium, a four-week study abroad program led by James Maskulka, associate professor of marketing. Leuven provided a space for students like Hodina to experience global marketing in a unique setting.

“Here at Lehigh, there is also a strong curriculum that incorporates marketing on a global spectrum,” she added. “However, the role of diversity within the marketing field is sometimes ignored, which made this competition so intriguing.”

Though Lehigh’s team did not place in the competition, Hodina says there were benefits in participating, and she hopes to help a new group of students prepare for next year’s contest.

“It’s completely worth it to compete, especially for the networking,” she says. “It was so exciting to meet professionals from big companies and also to connect with the other competing students. It’s always a plus to learn from your peers.”

Hodina takes part in many other extracurricular activities on campus.  She is the first president of the Kappa Delta sorority chapter, which joined the Lehigh Greek community last fall.

“I’ve learned so much at Lehigh, but becoming the president of a new sorority chapter has been the most rewarding by far. In the beginning, I was skeptical how successful we would be and how accepting the Greek community would be. We have certainly had a lot of growing pains the past few months.

“I have learned more about working with other people through this experience than with any other experience in my life.”

Hodina is also a club soccer captain, works for Lehigh University Business Services, and is the Class of 2015 correspondent. This summer, she will be a buying intern for Ross Stores in New York. She was able to land the internship through one of her marketing professors, Beth Gallant, boosting her deep affinity for Lehigh.

“My grandfather is an alumnus, so I am always excited to meet with other alumni and hear their stories. When I come back here in five or ten years after graduating, it’s going to be so cool to be on the other side of that. I am really going to enjoy seeing where everything stands, and if I made an impact on this community.”